An ongoing investigation into the testing of new equipment and the involvement of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) in an alleged cover up has angered the equestrian community and the media.
Detailed in the expose below are comments from FEI President Mr. Ingmar De Vos and his attempts to try to deny the alleged corruption claims and our response to his claims.
Since his claims, received in an FEI statement on 4 November 2017, there have been new developments proving the FEI objection was withdrawn in 2016. In June 2018, Mr. De Vos was provided with a further 11 expert reports calling for the approval of the WTP NP Bit in the interest of horse welfare.
The President could not fault the evidence or expert reports. Despite this, he has still not made the required WTP NP Bit approval changes to the FEI website. After assessing the evidence in this matter, the equestrian community and media have commented openly on what is a clear violation of the FEI Constitution.
Please join us in calling for a return to transparency, as documented in the FEI Constitution and Code of Ethics, not only in this matter, but for a positive way forward for the international equestrian community.
FEI STATEMENT 4 Nov 2017
FEI: Unfounded allegations have been levelled against the FEI in a press release issued by the manufacturer of the WTP bit, Adrian Morgante. Mr Morgante submitted the WTP bit to the FEI for approval in 2014, however the FEI did not approve it for use in FEI Dressage competitions. The reasons for the decision were clearly communicated to Mr Morgante.
WTP Bit response: The FEI must supply the applicant with copies of the equipment testing reports as this procedure is to prevent individual officials having personal views, which can lead to outside commercial influence or corruption. We and the media have made many requests for these reports; however, the results have not been provided to us. The claim they were not approved was found to be a personal view made by Ms. Carina Mayer and not a claim from the testing panel. The National Federations and equestrian community have been misled and deceived.
FEI: There is a standard process for equipment companies to submit their equipment to the FEI for approval and, if it is not approved, the manufacturer can appeal that decision under Articles 165.1 and 165.5 of the FEI General Regulations. Mr Morgante was advised of his right to appeal, but despite the fact that he was clearly unhappy with the decision, he chose not to do so.
WTP Bit response: In response to the offer to appeal, Ms. Carina Mayer and President Mr. Ingmar De Vos was asked to provide the evidence; namely, the 2014 testing panel reports and the alleged 2016 testing panel reports, to afford us the documentation required to appeal their decision. However, the requests for the information were ignored, making it impossible to lodge an appeal, and making their claims and the FEI appeal process farcical. As mentioned by the FEI there has been ongoing communication for 18 months and therefore a no time limitation period can start until we have received the information to allow an appeal to be made. Therefore, as a matter of transparency the general assembly and the appeal tribunal committee must now ask Mr. De Vos to provide the reports.
FEI: Over the past 18 months, there has been ongoing communication with Mr Morgante, including a conference call with him and his legal advisers where they were again advised of the opportunity to resubmit the WTP bit for evaluation together with any reports or third party endorsements. Mr Morgante has consistently declined this offer.
WTP Bit response: Our company and lawyers have repeatedly requested the WTP NP Bit testing reports, which have been constantly ignored, breaching the FEI Constitution. In response to the media contacting them, the FEI then offered the WTP Bit Company to submit the WTP NP Bit for re-testing. However, had the WTP Bit Company agreed to this, it would nullify all previous testing panel reports, and further, prevent the WTP Bit Company and the media from receiving the 2014 testing panel reports, which will confirm there is no need for additional testing.
Further, the WTP Bit Company asked the FEI several times to supply a reason for additional testing. However, the FEI could not provide a reason and, based on email correspondence, if we agreed to their offer, the FEI had no intentions to supply any re-testing reports. As stated by the media: “This was a farcical attempt by the FEI to cover up the false claims, lies and deception and, based on what has transpired, the FEI cannot be trusted.” Equine News.
Regarding the FEI comment of third party endorsements, we had previously supplied the FEI with a minimum of 26 expert reports, which were accepted by the FEI as legitimate. The WTP NP Bit has been thoroughly tested for years and thousands of times by many experts, including high profile Dressage and Olympic riders, instructors, coaches, professors and lecturers in equine science, veterinarians, dental technicians and National Federation leaders.
The WTP NP Bit contributes towards the welfare and happiness of the horse, as indicated in the reports enclosed below, which were accepted by the FEI as expert reports. Further, in June 2018, we supplied the FEI with a further 11 expert reports. The FEI could neither fault them nor come up with a reason why the WTP NP Bit should not be approved without further delay. However, the FEI continue to ignore our requests.
FEI: Contrary to Mr Morgante’s claims, the WTP bit has never been approved for use in FEI competition.
WTP Bit response: The WTP Bit Company has made numerous requests over the past 18 months to receive copies of the 2014 testing panel reports in an effort to resolve this matter and reveal the truth the testing panel did, in fact, approve the WTP NP Bit.
The FEI Code of Ethics states all members provide information that is accurate, complete, objective and in a timely fashion. As such, the 2014 FEI testing panel reports should have been provided upon request, which will prove the FEI claim to be false and misleading.
After our correspondence with Ms. Mayer, the WTP Bit Company and members of the equestrian community and media contacted FEI President Mr. Ingmar De Vos and other FEI officials requesting copies of the 2014 testing panel reports as a matter of transparency, which were also ignored, breaching the FEI Code of Ethics.
FEI: FEI staff members and officials have conducted themselves entirely correctly throughout this process.
WTP Bit response: Where are the 2014 and 2016 testing panel reports? Based on email correspondence and what has transpired, the FEI has not acted correctly and, as the media stated, this matter could have been resolved a long time ago had the FEI honoured their constitution of transparency and Code of Ethics by providing the WTP NP Bit testing reports.
Further, on the 14th December 2016, the following FEI officials made further false claims stating the WTP NP Bit was again re-tested in 2016. The FEI has been asked many times to provide the alleged 2016 reports, but they have not. We refer to the following comments from the media on this matter:
“All of the FEI claims regarding the WTP NP Bit were based on deception and lies to mislead the National Federations and the Equestrian community, which challenges the ethics, integrity and reputation of the FEI. The alleged FEI testing of the WTP NP Bit was not conducted in 2016; however, the following members of the Dressage Department Carina Mayer, Anna Milne, Bettina De Rhams, President Mr. Ingmar De Vos, Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, Director of the FEI Dressage Committee Mr. Frank Kemperman and Legal Director Mikael Rentsch claimed they were. If this was not a conspiracy to cover up this scandal, why haven’t they been able to provide any reports to support their claims.”
FEI: The FEI has a robust system in place for investigating any concerns regarding alleged integrity issues in the sport, having set up the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit in January 2010. The ECIU was drafted into the FEI Statutes in May 2011 and is now a permanent fixture in the structure of the Federation. The FEI firmly believes that correct procedures have been followed and refutes the allegations, but on the basis of good governance we will ask the ECIU to investigate this matter.
WTP Bit response: We understand members of the ECIU were also contacted by the media and members of the equestrian community and requested the status of the testing of the bit and for copies of the testing results. The FEI did not provide the results. For the integrity process to be transparent and accepted, the FEI must provide the ECIU with the requested 2014 testing panel reports and the alleged 2016 testing panel reports.
The ECIU stated in a phone recorded conversation: “You do get some funny attitudes from FEI people.” Further, “By reading all the expert reports, they should be approved and, on the face of it, it is a good piece of equipment and I can’t understand why they would not approve it.”
The reports the ECIU refer to are the 26 compelling expert reports we supplied the FEI, which the FEI could not fault. In June 2018, we supplied the FEI with a further 11 compelling expert reports also referring to the welfare benefits to the horse by using the WTP NP Bit, which they could not fault. The FEI horse welfare key guiding principles is enshrined in the FEI statutes and rules and their duty to protect horse welfare and therefore it cannot be compromised.
We refer to the FEI 2008 case, whereby the FEI Dressage Committee did not act correctly and were defiant and arrogant, believing they were unaccountable for their actions, but were forced to resign. Following this scandal, the FEI stated transparency was paramount and could not be compromised. However, the FEI has refused to provide crucial evidence for the WTP NP Bit case, Therefore, it appears a serious transparency and culture problem within the FEI still remains, clearly violating FEI Constitutional standards, ethics, transparency and integrity.
The equestrian community and the National Federations are bound by strict rules and transparency standards, and we should expect no less from the FEI. Therefore, for a president to lead the FEI into the future, he or she must be completely transparent and abide by FEI rules. The first action we ask the president to take in honour of the FEI Constitution and Code of Ethics is to provide the 2014 and the alleged 2016 WTP NP Bit reports, to confirm the true facts in this matter.
Members of the FEI have used bullying tactics and threats to try to prevent us from publishing further press releases. However, we have little choice but to share our ordeal with the FEI to the media as they, commercial businesses and the wider equestrian community seek to know about our experience and why they can’t use the WTP NP Bit in FEI Dressage competitions.
When we supplied President Mr. Ingmar De Vos with a further 11 expert reports in June 2018 and the evidence in 2016, whereby we challenged the FEI objection, the FEI accepted the photographic evidence showing the centre piece of the WTP NP Bit is smaller or of the same size in comparison to other already FEI approved bits and thus, only serves to adjust the moves of the arms, and cannot control or restrain the movements of the tongue in any way – at least not more than any other already FEI approved bits. The FEI then withdrew this objection, and, without further reason, the FEI still have not approved the WTP NP Bit. Instead of approving the bit, Mr. De Vos threatened us if we published further press releases unveiling the truth.
We have been threatened with legal action by the FEI; however, nothing has eventuated because in the event legal proceedings are commenced, which we welcome, we will use the proceedings as an opportunity to subpoena the relevant material in which we seek, including all testing reports, which will prove the FEI has not been telling the truth.
As a result, in the FEI not providing the reports as requested and in which we are entitled, our business has suffered financial loss, which we will have quantified and file as a cross claim in civil proceedings. There has been a culture within the FEI to protect their colleagues and we refer to the 2008 scandal whereby the FEI Dressage Committee were forced to resign, and it seems sadly, nothing has changed.
Furthermore, we have received scathing email comments from the media and equestrian community made against the FEI, due to their refusal to supply the WTP NP Bit reports. After assessing the mountain of evidence, they commented: “This smacks of corruption”; “So sad to know that you’re up against corruption”; “If you ask me, the whole regulation system for equipment and tack needs a big overhaul, especially considering the lack of an evidence-based and transparent process as you have experienced”; “This is disgraceful and, if they won’t supply the reports, it stinks of corruption and the President should be sacked.”
For the FEI to be transparent, the following members of the Dressage Department Carina Mayer, Anna Milne, Chloe Harty, Bettina De Rhams, President Mr. Ingmar De Vos, Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, Director of the FEI Dressage Committee Mr. Frank Kemperman, Legal Director Mikael Rentsch and Aine Power should be forced to provide the 2014 WTP NP Bit testing reports and the alleged 2016 testing reports at the 2018 General Assembly.
Further as a matter of transparency, the general assembly and appeals committee members should question the riders who tested the WTP NP bit in 2014. The integrity, credibility and reputation of the FEI is being damaged by some FEI members, which should not be accepted any longer and those involved should be held accountable to prevent further scandals that threaten the future of equestrian sport.
Media and other Enquiries
Contact Mr Adrian Morgante
WTP Bit Company